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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

October 31, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce to you first the mayor of Philadelphia, Mayor Dilworth, who is traveling with us [applause], and Congressman Green of Philadelphia, Congressman Burns of Philadelphia, and our driver, Jack Kelly of the United States. [Applause.] Bismarck once said that one-third of the students of German universities broke down from overwork, another third broke down from dissipation, and the other third ruled Germany.

I do not know which third of the student body of Temple is here today, but I am confident I am talking to the future rulers of America in the sense that all educated men and women must bear the discipline of self-government. I come here today to Temple University to ask your support in this campaign. I cannot believe that any educated man or woman that seeks the truth can possibly accept the campaign which Mr. Nixon is now running on. [Applause.] First that domestically he is running on the program that we have never enjoyed such unequaled prosperity at a time when we run through a recession in 1954, a recession in 1958, and we are sliding into a slow period now which is going to give us 30 percent less homes in the last month, than we had a year ago and more unsold cars in 3 weeks than we have ever had in our history. I don't want that kind of prosperity, and this country can't possibly afford it. We are now, instead of growing - the last 9 months we had no economic growth - we had minus 0.3 percent - and when you realize that this country is competing not only to provide a better life for its people, but we are also competing in order to demonstrate to the world that freedom and growth and strength and productivity go hand in hand. I am not satisfied as an American to drift and to have the Republicans continue to let us drift in the next 4 years. [Applause.]

Secondly, Mr. Nixon campaigns on a program that our prestige has never been higher. He is either misinformed, uninformed, or misleads, and I have to leave you to judge which it is, when his own information service in the State Department - will you get this out of my throat? Thank you. [Laughter.] When his own information service in the State Department has polls taken in 10 countries from India to Indonesia, which show, for example, if Mr. Nixon would read them, that only 7 percent of the people of England and France now believe that we are ahead of the Soviet Union in science. A majority of the people in every one of those countries now believe that by 1970 the Soviet Union will be ahead of us in military power, science, and economic growth. How long can we lead the free world if they are convinced that the balance of power is shifting against us? This is a hard struggle. It is a close struggle. Anyone who studies the competitive histories of Germany and England in the thirties knows the advantages in a close competition which a totalitarian power has, and they certainly have an advantage if those that seek to hold responsible positions will not tell the truth. [Applause.]

This election will be decided in a week, and then this country has to move on. Mr. Nixon and I will finish our tasks on November 8. Then you have to decide. You have to make your own judgment, what kind of a country you think we have, what we must do in the sixties, what responsibilities we must meet, what our position should be in Latin America and Africa and Asia. What you have to decide is, Do you think that the Republican Party and those that they summon to positions of leadership led by Mr. Nixon can lead us in the 1960's? If you are satisfied, he is your man. [Response from the audience.]

I am going to make an offer to Mr. Nixon. I have been trying to get him to debate me for 2 weeks. He has given me every reason and finally his last excuse was that I should apologize for saying that he was unwilling to debate. [Response from the audience.] I may find now the reason why. I read in today's paper that Mr. Nixon is unwilling to take a ride through the city of New York to meet the voters. But he is going to take President Eisenhower with him. I now offer him to let President Eisenhower come with him on the fifth debate. Then we can see. [Response from the audience and applause.] What Mr. Nixon does not understand is that President Eisenhower was running only in 1952 and 1956. President Eisenhower is not a candidate. Mr. Nixon is. Mr. Nixon and I are going to face the voters alone next November 8, no matter what the President of the United States may choose to do this week in New York or any place else. It is Nixon versus Kennedy the Republicans versus the Democrats, and I look to the future with some degree of hope. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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